Politics & Other Mistakes: Mills strikes out

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Manny Machado will receive $300 million over 10 years to play baseball for the San Diego Padres.

Bryce Harper got a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for 13 years and $330 million.

And Mike Trout is in line to receive $432 million from the Los Angeles Angels spread over a dozen years.

In contrast, Central Maine Power Co. has offered to pay the state of Maine a mere $258 million over 40 years to approve the New England Clean Energy Connect, 145 miles of power lines plowing through the forests of western Maine.

That’s not even in the ballpark.

This bush-league deal averages less than $6.5 million per year or about what Harper, Machado and Trout pay clubhouse attendants in tips. Except the NECEC money is likely to have less impact on the people who are supposed to benefit.

There’s $140 million that’s supposed to reduce electric bills. But it’s spread out over four decades and hundreds of thousands of customers. The net effect won’t save you enough to buy a hot dog and beer at Fenway, which by 2060 will cost a thousand bucks.

CMP will provide $15 million over five years for heat pumps. Heat pumps run on electricity. This is like insulin manufacturers selling sugar.

Another $15 million goes for electric-car charging stations. That’ll benefit Tesla owners, which is to say rich people. It’ll also benefit electricity distributors.

There’s also about a million a year for energy-efficiency programs for low-income people. Inflation will do a major erosion job on the value of this cash. By mid-century, most households will be receiving a rusty oil barrel and some scrap lumber for use at family fire-pits on frigid evenings. CMP might also throw in a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.

Harper wouldn’t sign a deal this crappy.

Machado’s agent would walk out.

Trout would sign with the Yankees.

But Gov. Janet Mills, who isn’t quite on the same elite level, figured this was the best she could get. After expressing ambivalence about NECEC last year, Mills decided a pitiful amount of money doled out over many decades was adequate compensation for ripping up western Maine to send Canadian hydro power to Massachusetts.

“Gov. Mills has always tried to approach the NECEC proposal with a single standard – that any deal must result in substantial and concrete long-term benefits to the people of Maine,” her press secretary said in a statement.

That’s the political equivalent of a grounder dribbling through Bill Buckner’s legs.

Supporters of Mills’ position claim the governor believes the project is likely to advance regardless of her stance. That’s bogus. NECEC needs approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission, where Mills will soon have the opportunity to nominate a new member. While one appointment won’t tip the vote on the solidly pro-utility PUC, it might provide fresh perspective.

In addition, CMP needs clearance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to trample wetlands and deer yards. The Mills administration controls the DEP and should be able to unspool enough red tape to make the process something between difficult and impossible.

I’m not sure there’s any amount of money CMP could offer that would adequately offset NECEC’s damage, but I’m willing to listen to offers starting at the combined cost of signing Machado, Harper and Trout, as well as extending Mookie Betts’ contract with the Red Sox for the next decade or so.

And I want that cash up front.

Make your pitch by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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